Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuning MPlayer

MPlayer has been my preferred video player for a long time because it consistently runs better on older hardware than the competition (xine, vlc). However, it looked like MPlayer had finally reached its limit with the combination of modern codecs like H.264, 720p HD video, and a lowly 1.7GHz P4. A faster computer seemed like the only answer.

Whenever MPlayer stumbles, it gives its infamous "Your system is too SLOW to play this!" warning, which offers several options that might improve playback. I have tried the options that seem relevant, but somehow I missed one: "-lavdopts lowres=1:fast:skiploopfilter=all". The option results in a very noticeable loss in video quality but 720p video does become watchable. I'm not sure if it is the better source, the newer codec, or just psychological, but the quality still seems better than a SD XviD .avi, even though the downgraded video is no longer HD. It must be pyschological.

I'm not sure if the other media players allow this kind of control over the underlying decoders, but I'm glad MPlayer does. ;-)

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